|Article prepared for distribution at an Exhibition in 2005 at Rushden Heritage Centre, by Arthur Harris.
On his return, in 1919, from serving in the First World War, Mr Charles Kingsley Woods began a small business in a workshop at 1 Little Street, Rushden, manufacturing men's Goodyear welted boots and shoes. In those days most of the work was given to out-workers with little machinery used.
About 1922, Mr Woods moved to a house and workshop at 10 Crabb Street, Rushden, taking the premises over from John White and about 1926, the business moved again to Church Street, Rushden also to premises once used by John White.
As the business gradually expanded the factory machines were purchased. Mr Woods decided that larger premises were needed, so in 1928 the Company moved to North Street, enabling all the manufacturing processes to be accommodated under one roof, rather than being sent to outworkers. Over the years this factory was modified and two further extensions constructed.
While visiting Kingston, Jamaica, Mr C K Woods was asked by one of his customers to start a shoe factory there, so in 1953 Mr Woods' son, Peter, now Managing Director of the company, went out to Jamaica to open a factory. He took the machinery from North Street and spent 6 months in Jamaica teaching local people how to use the machinery to manufacture shoes of all types, including ladies shoes. This factory became the first British shoe factory to be exported and traded as the Hanwood Shoe Company. It still operates today, although in 1967/68 C K Woods sold the 25% shares they once held in the Company.
Today C K Woods in Rushden no longer manufactures men's welted high-grade shoes, 95% of which were all leather. Shoes in the 1970's were supplied to factors and multiples in Britain and exported, particularly to Norway, Qatar and Canada. The Company employed about 60 people, two or three times a year.